Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2019
Tired or sleepy? Although in common parlance ‘sleepy’ and ‘tired’ are used interchangeably there is actually an important difference between them. Sleepy means a propensity to go to sleep, tired implies physical and/or mental fatigue/exhaustion. Therefore you can be tired without being sleepy e.g. you know sometimes that even though you are physically exhausted, you cannot fall asleep because you mind is racing. This is important from a sleep point of view because if you have a problem with your sleep you will have daytime consequences, i.e. you will be sleepy during the day. If you are tired during the day then this could be because of a myriad of reasons e.g. a long drive, a boring job, a row with the other half etc. etc. A simple example to demonstrate the difference  imagine you have to walk up three flights of stairs, when you get to the top do you need to 1) sit down or 2) sleep? If you need to sit down then you are tired/fatigued/ knackered/exhausted, if you need to sleep then you are sleepy. Of course you may naturally feel a bit sleepy when you awake in the morning or in the early afternoon when you have the natural reduction in alertness (the so called ‘post-lunch dip’) but if you really feel that you could easily fall asleep at 11am then there may be a problem with your sleep.